San Antonio, Tex.--For four-star linebacker and Auburn commitment Tadarian Moultry this week’s experience at the U.S. Army All-American Game is another step in his development as a player and in his growth as a young man.
Not playing football his first two years in high school and suffering a gunshot wound as a sophomore, Moultry has worked his way from raw safety to standout linebacker in two years’ time and now finds himself among the best of the best in the country.
“It’s just a blessing to be here right now,” Moultry said. “I thank God every morning when I wake up. It’s just the grind and me getting shot, I think that’s what really helped me. I had my grind, but me getting shot just opened up more doors and made me wiser than what I was.”
Saturday's all-star game will be televised by NBC beginning at noon CST.
Building a strong bond with the Auburn coaching staff early in his career at Jackson-Olin High School, Moultry committed to the Tigers in the spring and hasn’t looked back. With teams coming after him daily, the 6-2, 225-pounder has been strong in his decision and that hasn’t changed.
“I’m 110,” Moultry said of his percentage commitment to the Tigers. “Like I always say, I’m a family guy and they treat me like family. They’ve treated me like that since they’ve recruited me and they’re still recruiting me the same way. They haven’t backed off a little bit. If they had backed off I probably would have been 75 percent, but they haven’t.”
Tadarian Moultry makes a play in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Game in Montgomery.
A college that has been persistent in its recruiting of Moultry is Florida. While the Gators have talked to him about an official visit, the talented linebacker said for him the most important thing is staying true to Auburn.
That means talking with Auburn linebacker coach Travis Williams throughout the process to make sure the two are on the same page. With Alabama, Georgia and LSU on the “no visit list” for Moultry, he said Florida is a place he’ll consider visiting in late January just to have another experience. He plans to visit Auburn on Jan. 20.
A player who has been a model for Coach Tim Vakakes to use for the rest of the players at Jackson-Olin because of his work ethic and attitude, Moultry said he’s come a long way as he’s continued to get bigger and stronger on the field.
That has allowed him to show his skills in a variety of ways, something he’s doing this week in San Antonio. Playing middle linebacker and also outside linebacker, Moultry said the coaches were impressed by his pass rush skills and may line him up some on the edge on third downs as well.
“Whatever he tells me to do I’m going to work for it. I’m not going to just play any position because I want to play it, Coach put me at linebacker. If you tell me to play defensive end I’m going to work hard and do what I have to. It’s just a blessing to play safety, play linebacker, and probably put my hand in the dirt one day.”
That’s something that could be his best position down the road because of his explosiveness and the likelihood that he’ll continue to get bigger. With minimal body fat, Moultry could easily be 240-245 by this time next year and give Auburn’s defense a difference-maker coming off the edge. He said that’s something he’s willing to do if needed, but his main goal is to help the team do whatever is needed to win.
“If God blesses me to go to the league (NFL) then I want to show them that I’m versatile,” Moultry said. “If you need a pass rusher I can be that man. If you need someone to play Mike, I can be that man.”
Auburn recruiting targets safety Devon Hunter, receiver Henry Ruggs, receiver Oliver Martin, defensive end Jarez Parks and defensive lineman Aubrey Solomon are also playing in the game. AU signee Nick Brahms was selected to the team, but is recovering from an injury.